As of mid-April, about 95% of Americans—or 306 million people—were placed under a stay-at- home order to stop the spread of the coronavirus. This means that in a matter of days we’d been thrown into the largest work-from-home experiment in history.
But disruption is an opportunity for innovation. It’s critical that you stay as productive as possible during this time—for your own career, for your company, and for our larger economy.
With that in mind, here are eight tips for working from home, whether you’ve been doing this for years or just a few days.
Create a schedule
No one really knows how long the coronavirus shutdown will last. For now, you need to think of this as your new normal and get into a regular routine.
Wake up at the same time every morning, get dressed, show up, and work hard—just like you would when you go into the office. If you have kids, especially little ones, then writing and posting a physical schedule is a must. Look at the day (or week) ahead and plan out meetings, schoolwork, screen time for the kids and even chores that need to get done. Involve your kids in the planning process, too. It will really help them buy in and participate.
Also, make sure to power down at the end of the day. You don’t have a physical commute that separates you from the office, so create a ritual to help you disconnect. Walk the dog, go on a short drive, or get in a solid workout.
Set clear boundaries with your family or roommates
Unless you live alone, you’re sharing your home and your office with other people. If you’re not clear about your expectations, and respectful of what everyone else needs, you’ll start to feel tension rise up.
If you live with other adults, then you should be able to set clear expectations in just one or two conversations. But if you’re married or have kids, it’s a good idea to have a regular check-in to make sure you’re all on the same page. Ask your roommates (or family) to be respectful when you’re digging into a project or on a conference call.
Take your personality into account
Some of you introverts are having the time of your life working from home. Some of the extroverts out there are panicking about not having human interaction for the foreseeable future.
Don’t feel guilty because your routine looks a little different from your coworker’s, or even your spouse’s.
Reflect on how it’s going, and check in with yourself from time to time. Are you easily distracted? Do you need to move around and be active? Are you able to sit down and just knock out work hour after hour? Be patient with yourself as you settle into a rhythm.
Understand what technology you need
Now’s the time to make friends with your IT department. You’ll probably run into a few snags as you figure out technology from home. Ask your leader about the software you’ll need and make sure you’re able to access it. You don’t want to waste time at home because you don’t have the tools you need to get the job done.
Create a workspace
Having a space for your home office will help you stay focused and get into work mode. It also helps you create a physical boundary to separate you from roommates or family. If you don’t have a home office, you might need to claim the dining room table or a desk in your bedroom.
Make it personalized and keep it clean.
Step up the communication
Your success as a remote worker boils down to one thing: your ability to communicate with your leader and team. And if you’re in leadership, then it’s even more critical for you to communicate well as you manage your team remotely.
At the same time, don’t let the digital communication overwhelm your productivity. Unless your position requires you to be on call, feel free to unplug from notifications when you need to focus.
Just communicate to your teammates as to when you’ll be available again.
When you work remotely, it’s easy to blur the lines between life and work. Some people tend to work extra-long hours, and others might be tempted to slack off. Neither extreme is healthy. By scheduling breaks throughout your day, you give yourself something to look forward to.
Have some fun
Working from home has its perks, and you should enjoy them. Take advantage of the slower pace. Play with your dog once in a while, or have breakfast as a family.
Also, make sure to have fun with your coworkers. Share fun pictures and updates from your life, in addition to the “business as usual” communication. It will help you strengthen your relationships, and make the whole experience feel more unified!
About Ken Coleman
Ken Coleman is a #1 national best-selling author and nationally syndicated radio host of The Ken Coleman Show. Pulling from his own personal struggles, missed opportunities and career successes, Coleman helps people discover what they were born to do and provides practical steps to make their dream job a reality. The Ken Coleman Show is a caller-driven career show that helps listeners who are stuck in a job they hate or searching for something more out of their career. His second book, The Proximity Principle: The Proven Strategy That Will Lead to the Career You Love, released May 2019. Connect with Ken on Twitter and Instagram at @KenColeman and online at kencoleman.com or at facebook.com/kenColemanShow.